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Rio Olympics 2016: Analysing Gagan Narang's chances of a medal at Rio

Can Gagan Narang shrug off his inconsistent form and come back to win at Rio 2016?

Gagan Narang
Gagan Narang at an earlier competition

Gagan Narang has been an inspiration to India and its young shooters since he won the Bronze medal in the 10m air rifle event at the London Olympics. His achievements have inspired many young shooters to take up the sport in hopes of representing the country.

At the Rio Olympics, Narang will be participating in three shooting events – 10m air rifle, 50m rifle prone and 50m three positions. But participating and managing three events in the same tournament can be a hard task, and Narang will be hoping he can perform well in all three disciplines.

Speaking at the Rio World Cup earlier this year, the 33-year-old shooter had said, “Balancing three events will be a big task. The challenge is to peak in all three events during a particular period. I am planning my training in a way that I peak in all three events.”

Also read: Rio Olympics 2016: 5 Shooters who can ruin India's medal hopes

The experienced Indian shooter has been training hard for the Olympics but his performances have been lacking the finishing touches since the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Since bagging the bronze medal in London, the shooter has only had success in the 2014 Glasgow Games. The worrying factor, however, will be his performances since the 2014 event. He has participated in a total of seven World Cups since he won the bronze medal.

Gagan Narang's record at ISSF World Cups
2015PlaceRankCompetition ScoreFinal score
10m air rifleChangwon44619.9NA
 Fort Benning26622.9NA
 Gabala5626.7144.5
 Munich57620.4NA
50m rifle proneChangwon13622.0NA
 Fort Benning3626.6185.8
 Gabala23623.6NA
 Munich63615.3NA
50m rifle 3 positionsChangwon331162NA
 Fort Benning491158NA
 Gabala171170NA
 Munich201171NA
2016    
10m air rifleBaku6626.6123.1
 Bangkok33617.6NA
 Rio31622.8NA
50m rifle proneBaku7621.1103.1
 Bangkok13617.1NA
 Rio48615.5NA
50m rifle 3 positionsBaku231161NA
 Bangkok101159NA
 Rio321160NA

His performances in these seven World Cups has not been extraordinary. He has just finished in the top-3 once, when he finished 3rd in the 50m rifle prone at the ISSF World Cup in Fort Benning in 2015. He has participated in all the three events in these seven World Cups but his performances have been disappointing. But the disappointment can never be too much as the shooter has shown signs of getting good results.

Also read: Why shooting is India's best medal hope at the Rio Olympics

The statistics will also suggest that he has not missed the top-3 by many points. He has looked comfortable and hungry for more after each tournament. He has since realised what the conditions will be at Rio 2016. Hence, the shooter has started his training accordingly to get the best out of himself at the Games.

Tough competition for Narang

His main opponents in the three categories have been in prime form in the build-up to the 2016 event. In the 10m air rifle event, the Indian shooter will be accompanied by his countryman, Abhinav Bindra. The latter had won a gold medal at Beijing 2008. Therefore, the two might have to compete with each other too when it comes to the podium finish.

The foreign shooters who will be looking to disappoint the Indian duo include the likes of China’s Qinan Zhu and Haoran Yang, Hungary’s Peter Sidi and Bulgaria’s Anton Rizov. These shooters have been finishing in the top-3 more often and will look to spoil India’s party.

Whereas, in the 50m air rifle 3 positions event, Narang might have better chances of winning as the other shooters have not been consistent enough. The shooters who might be tough competition for the Indian are – USA’s Matthew Emmons, Kazakhstan’s Yuriy Yurkov, China’s duo of Qinan Zhu and Zicheng Hui, and Croatia’s Petar Gorsa. But Narang will not feel alone as he has got Chain Singh to accompany him at the Games in this event.

The 50m rifle prone event will also have Gagan Narang participating. We will be seeing the likes of Denmark’s Torben Grimmel competing with Narang. Grimmel has been in prime form in the build-up to the Games and has ended up winning twice in the World Cups. Australia’s Warren Potent and Italy’s experienced Niccolo Campriani will also be competing to win at Rio. However, Narang will be hoping to see Chain Singh and himself as the two who will finish in the top three.

It will be the third consecutive time that the 33-year old will be participating in the same three events at the Olympic Games. Narang has participated at the Beijing and the London Olympics in these three events, but his best finish has been that of a bronze medal. His second best performance has been with a 9th place finish in the 10m air rifle in the 2008 Games.

Narang’s performances in the 50m rifle prone and 50m three positions have been disappointing too. The shooter’s best performance at the Olympics in the 50m three positions has been that of a 13th placed finish in Beijing.

But, when Narang takes centre stage in Rio and holds up his rifle, he will shoot for glory. He knows that this might be his last chance at Olympic gold and that could be motivation enough for him to bag a medal or two.

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